By Cody Soto
The No. 6 Baylor women’s tennis team has gotten off to a hot start in the 2015 dual-match season, and the Lady Bears exhibited their current state of dominance with four-straight shutouts on Friday and Sunday to continue their unbeaten season at the Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center.
Baylor (6-0) played four straight matches at home last weekend and didn’t allow a single point to swing the way of their opponents. Head coach Joey Scrivano was able to mix up his lineup throughout the weekend, allowing senior Ema Burgic and sophomore Blair Shankle to rest and underclassmen to step in and compete.
“It was a great opportunity to play a lot of tennis,” Scrivano said. “Our underclassmen, most importantly, got a lot of practice and go to work on areas of the game that they needed to. It was very successful not only on the scoreboard but also from a development standpoint.”
Baylor faced Pittsburgh early Friday afternoon, and juniors Kiah Generette and Rachael James-Baker breezed past their opponents 6-1 while sophomore Kely Putri and freshman Leolia JeanJean fell on court three 6-2.
Freshmen Theresa Van Zyl and Kelley Anderson were the final doubles duo in action, and Baylor took the doubles point as the underclassmen took the 6-3 win.
All six Baylor players saw success in their singles matches. Junior Kiah Generette blew past Pittsburgh’s Lolade Ogungbesan 6-0, 6-1 while JeanJean took a 6-3, 6-0 win on court four. Putri took a 6-4, 6-1 win at the No. 6 spot, and the next two out of three matches went to a third set ultimate tiebreaker.
Prairie View A&M
Less than two hours later, the Lady Bears were back in action with different uniforms, but the result was the same. Baylor jumped on an early 3-0 sweep in doubles play to claim the point and lead 1-0.
JeanJean was the first Lady Bear to claim a victory on court four as she defeated Reegan Greenwood 6-0, 6-1. Seconds later, Generette took an exciting 6-1, 6-1 victory over Katia Stavroulaki. The winning just kept coming for Baylor, and Van Zyl finished off the doubleheader with the 6-4, 6-1 win on court five to give Baylor a clean 7-0 sweep over the Broncs.
“It was a great opportunity to rest Ema and Blair, and in doing that it allowed us to give Kely Putri and Theresa Van Zyl an opportunity to get in the lineup,” Scrivano said. “That experience is invaluable. They need experience in January because you never know when they’re going to be called upon.”
No. 25 Tulsa
The Lady Bears were then challenged in two out of the three doubles matches against No. 25 Tulsa on Sunday afternoon, but Generette and James-Baker fought back and forced Tulsa to make errors for the critical 7-5 win on court three for the 1-0 lead heading into singles play.
“Anytime you play a top 25 team, they’re going to present challenges for you,” Scrivano said. “Our girls handled it very well. I’m really proud how they focused.”
Burgic forced Tulsa’s Ksenia Laskutova to constantly play from behind and ran away with a 6-1, 6-2 win on court one. Shankle didn’t seem to have too much trouble as she defeated Yelena Nemchen 6-0, 6-1 to push Baylor’s lead to 3-0. Generette fought off a late run by Tulsa’s Rongrong Leenabanchong late in the second set but delivered the match-winning point with a 6-2, 6-3 win on court three.
While many athletes proceeded to their screens to watch the Super Bowl, the Lady Bears hosted in-state opponent Incarnate Word and didn’t have much trouble getting home early enough to watch the final quarter. Baylor took a clean 3-0 sweep in doubles play for the early 1-0 lead, and it was smooth sailing from there.
No. 73 Anderson defeated Sarah Savedra 6-1, 6-1 for the 2-0 lead in the match, quickly followed by Generette with the 6-0, 6-0 victory on court two. Burgic also delivered a hard hit as she blew past Rachel Sadiq 6-0, 6-0 in the 7-0 win for Baylor. The lone senior has provided stability for this young team so far this season, Scrivano said.
“Ema is our team captain; anytime she in the lineup, it’s just a calming effect on everybody,” Scrivano said. “We feel really confident when she’s in there. It was also good that we were able to rest her and let others play (on Friday).”
Baylor hosts another doubleheader on Sunday as it plays Maryland and Prairie View A&M at home. Match times are set for 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. at the Hawkins Indoor Center.